Mighty Ducks rest, wait for next opponent

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – While San Jose and Edmonton play on in the Western Conference semifinals, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks rest and wait.

After dispatching Colorado in a four-game sweep Thursday, the Ducks have the luxury of time on their hands as they anticipate the start of the conference finals.

“OC is proud of you. Great clinic’ in Denver” read a hand-painted sign attached to a fence outside Anaheim Arena, where the Ducks worked out off the ice Saturday.

They’ll take Sunday off before a practice skate Monday that will focus on defense and conditioning.

“It’s a long time to practice day and day out, so we might do something a little different in between,” coach Randy Carlyle said.

The San Jose-Edmonton series is tied 2-2. The earliest it could end is Wednesday, or it could stretch out until Friday.

“It’s a little weird that you have to wait one week,” Teemu Selanne said.

The downtime will allow the Ducks to heal their bumps and bruises from playing every other day for more than three weeks.

“We’ll take this rest and hopefully guys can get healed up,” Scott Niedermayer said.

The downside is the possibility of losing their focus with nothing but practice scheduled.

“I hope not,” Selanne said. “It might take one or two periods, but after that it’s going to be a big advantage to have healthy bodies and a lot of energy.”

Selanne was still smiling a day after shooting an 85 on the golf course. But he said he’ll put his clubs away the rest of the week.

“You got to get your mind off hockey a little bit, but when it’s getting closer to the end of the week, you have to be more focused and get ready again,” Selanne said.

Some of the Ducks plan to spend extra time with their families this week. Todd Marchant and Todd Fedoruk weren’t with the team Saturday. Marchant’s daughter had her first communion, while Fedoruk was visiting his newborn child.

Coach Randy Carlyle hasn’t put any restrictions on how the players spend their off-time, joking, “I don’t want them to go water-skiing or skydiving.”

Several of the Ducks said they’re tuning into the Sharks-Oilers series, but claimed no preference about who they’ll play next.

If San Jose advances, the conference finals would pit Northern and Southern California, leaving less travel for both teams.

If Edmonton moves on, the Ducks would have home-ice advantage, meaning they’d make two, rather than three, trips to Canada during a seven-game series.

“There’s positive and negative there,” Ruslan Salei said. “They’re both great teams, they both play a really physical game, and we just have to match their intensity.”

Selanne admitted he was surprised the Ducks swept Colorado, but he liked what he saw in the dressing room afterward.

“It wasn’t a big deal. We were not celebrating,” he said. “It’s a good sign that the goal is higher.”

The Ducks are halfway to reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2003, when they lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.

Their immediate priorities are rest and keeping the focus that allowed them to get this far.

“Our mental approach from day one has been unbelievable, and that’s something we can’t lose in this break,” Jeff Friesen said. “It’s really mental this time of year.”

AP-ES-05-13-06 2048EDT


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